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Connecticut Nurse and Mother of Two Is All About Her Patients – And Her Boys

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By Pablo Ros ·
Connecticut Nurse and Mother of Two Is All About Her Patients – And Her Boys
Yajaira Perez

Editor’s Note: We celebrate National Nurses Week, which begins today, with this story of a Connecticut nurse on the front lines of the fight against the COVID-19.

Yajaira Perez, a registered nurse at MidState Medical Center in Meriden, Conn., is all about her patients.

Jessie Udeen, a former colleague, remembers a night when she and the other nurses on duty were having an especially tough time inserting an intravenous tube on a patient who needed antibiotics. Perez was off duty. It was 3 o’clock in the morning. When Udeen texted her friend about the situation, Perez volunteered to come in.

“I don’t have a normal sleep cycle, so I was awake anyway,” Perez recalls. “I sort of snuck into the hospital, put in the IV, and left. Then I went to the gym.”

While Perez makes it sound like a small thing, she potentially saved a life.

“Yajaira is amazing with putting in IVs,” Udeen says. “We’d had a very hard time with this particular patient that night. Yajaira knew he needed antibiotics or wouldn’t survive.”

For her service to her community, Perez, a member of Connecticut Health Care Associates District 1199/NUHHCE/AFSCME, is a winner of AFSCME’s Never Quit Service Award, which honors public service workers who go above and beyond the call of duty.

Udeen nominated her for her “impeccable patient-care skills,” her “accountability, authenticity and ability to bring a smile to anyone’s face,” and for being “extremely hardworking and dedicated.”

Yajaira Perez with her boys, Anthony and Joshua. Member-provided photos.

While her patients are important to Perez, a single mother, so are her two teenage boys, Anthony and Joshua.

“My life consists of my boys and work,” she says. “When I’m not at work, I’m with them.”

Like many public service workers who are on the front lines of fighting the coronavirus pandemic, Perez is doing so while putting her own safety, and the safety of her loved ones, at risk.

“It is really hard,” she says. “I do cry about it every day. But I take precautions. As soon as I get home, I walk in the door and go straight to the washroom, put my uniform and coat and everything into the washing machine and turn it on, then jump into the shower. I have to keep my distance with my boys, but they’re teens, so they stay away anyway. Sometimes they joke about it. I’ve also been trying to get them to wear masks, but they’re teenage boys ...”

There’s been a few dozen cases of COVID-19 at her hospital, says Perez, who works in the Intensive Care Unit, and nurses are having to reuse personal safety equipment they would normally throw away.

But the former Army medic is determined to continue to serve her patients and keep her community safe.

“Working in this field was always my goal,” she says. “In high school I wanted to be a doctor, but that was a lot of school to put myself through and I ended up having children, so I opted for nursing and I love it. I had a teacher in school who was a Navy nurse and I always looked up to her. That’s where the seed was planted.”

Perez says what motivates her to go above and beyond the call of duty are her patients.

“I do it for them,” she says. “When I go that extra mile it’s for my patients, and usually because I’m helping someone learn something new. If we can research something together, four eyes are better than two. I enjoy that. I enjoy being able to help.”

Never Quit Service Awards

Know a co-worker who goes above and beyond to make their community better? Nominate them for AFSCME’s Never Quit Service Award.

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